Bitcoin and Ethereum: Nation-State Attackers Face Insurmountable Costs

The feasibility of nation-states orchestrating 51% attacks on the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks has been deemed impractical, asserts the latest findings from Coin Metrics, a prominent crypto intelligence firm.

The concept of a 51% attack is rooted in the malicious acquisition of over 51% of the mining hash rate in proof-of-work systems, such as Bitcoin, or 51% of staked crypto in proof-of-stake networks like Ethereum. The potential havoc such an attack could wreak includes disrupting new transactions and facilitating double-spending, effectively undermining the trust that sustains these networks.

Coin Metrics researchers Lucas Nuzzi, Kyle Water, and Matias Andrade outlined in their Feb. 15 report that the exorbitant costs associated with maintaining such control render nation-state attacks financially unviable. Employing the “Total Cost to Attack” (TCA) metric, the report meticulously calculated the capital and operational expenses necessary to execute a successful attack.

Their analysis concluded that no profitable avenues exist for attackers to compromise either the Bitcoin or Ethereum networks, eradicating any financial incentive for nefarious entities to pursue such actions. The report’s projections painted a daunting picture: a Bitcoin 51% attack would demand the acquisition of an astonishing 7 million ASIC mining rigs, totaling an investment upwards of $20 billion.

Even if a hypothetical attacker were to opt for manufacturing their own mining rigs, a resource-intensive endeavor utilizing devices like the Bitmain AntMiner S9, the cost would still exceed the $20 billion mark. Furthermore, concerns surrounding a potential 34% staking attack from Lido validators on Ethereum were addressed in the report.

The rise of Liquid Staking Derivative (LSD) providers, particularly LidoDAO, had raised alarms within the Ethereum community regarding network vulnerability. However, the report challenges these apprehensions, suggesting that the threat may be overstated.

The research posits that the astronomical costs associated with executing 51% attacks on Bitcoin and Ethereum render such endeavors financially unfeasible for nation-state actors. This analysis underscores the resilience of decentralized networks against malicious interventions, reaffirming their status as foundational pillars of the digital economy.


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Maria Irene
Maria Irene
Maria Irene is a multi-faceted journalist with a focus on various domains including Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Real Estate, Energy, and Macroeconomics. With over a year of experience, she has produced an array of video content, news stories, and in-depth analyses. Her journalistic endeavours also involve a detailed exploration of the Australia-India partnership, pinpointing avenues for mutual collaboration. In addition to her work in journalism, Maria crafts easily digestible financial content for a specialised platform, demystifying complex economic theories for the layperson. She holds a strong belief that journalism should go beyond mere reporting; it should instigate meaningful discussions and effect change by spotlighting vital global issues. Committed to enriching public discourse, Maria aims to keep her audience not just well-informed, but also actively engaged across various platforms, encouraging them to partake in crucial global conversations.


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